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Fake organic chocolate maker sentenced at Plymouth Crown Court

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A South Devon luxury chocolate maker who admitted to falsely marketing his products as organic was sentenced at Plymouth Crown Court Friday, December 10.

Businessman Jocelyn Charles Lally, trading as Kingsbridge-based confectioner The Cocoa Tree, sold his chocolate through reputable local shops, falsely claiming that it had Soil Association accreditation.

The Judge sentenced Mr Lally to complete a 12- month supervision order with a requirement to complete 40 hours unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay a contribution towards prosecution costs of £150.

Lally, 37, of Church Hill, East Allington, admitted four charges of falsely claiming that his products were organic, when he appeared before Torquay Magistrates on Friday 5 November 2010.

The offences occurred during 2009 and 2010.

Chairman of the Magistrates Penny Kingsley-Smith had told him: “You have taken advantage of the public and you have taken advantage of traders.”

The Magistrates court heard that Lally could not afford to renew his certification when it expired. The certification, which involves a detailed audit of ingredients used, ensures that manufacturers use genuine organic ingredients.

Mr Cotton, from Devon County Council Trading Standards, prosecuting in the Magistrate’s Court had said, “When you put ‘organic’ on a label it attracts a higher price”.

Mr Lally was warned by Devon County Council Trading Standards not to market his products as organic without the appropriate accreditation. However, he continued to supply fake organic products including drinking chocolate and fruit topped chocolate bars, labelled as organic, and printed with Soil Association approval marks.

Mr Lally was convicted of similar offences in 2007 when he was fined a total of £2,800.

In mitigation, solicitor Alan Parsons had said that his client was not a ‘master criminal or a talented businessman’. He said that he had experienced some personal difficulties and could not afford to renew the accreditation.

(from a press release)

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